Accepted Paper:

A brief introduction to panic in the Anthropocene  
Matthew Buttacavoli (James Cook University)

Paper short abstract:

What is panic and what is our ethical relationship with it? This paper explores the nature and ethics of panic through the lens of Great Barrier Reef interventions. Through this paper, I will introduce the topic of the panel and provoke questions of the presenters' relationships towards panic.

Paper long abstract:

During a period of increasingly unpredictable environmental crises, panic has become a dominant mode for encouraging and justifying action. Given that panic is a temporally constrained heightened emotional mode of response, little attention is paid to the greater ethics of impact of panicked responses. This paper introduces and defines the topic of panic being discussed by this panel and provokes the questions around the ethics of panic. For this discussion, I am grounding my analysis on my work within the Great Barrier Reef. 2016 and 2017 saw major episodes of mass bleaching that caused tremendous damage to the northern and central sections of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park respectively. In the wake of those events, scientists, journalists and various stakeholders responded with multiple panicked interventions. From fast-tracking questionable technology to generating generous public funding, the response to these interventions have been mixed. The public has also been in a state of panic; panicked into a state of inaction and mistrust. How as anthropologists, social scientists and activists are we to interact and intervene in times of panic? What new relations and responsibilities does panic instil in our field sites and in us as researchers?

Panel P28
Anthropocene panic!